Citing Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speech, which paid homage to the “honored dead,” Hauerwas only found further evidence that America is blood drenched. “The Gettysburg Address is an address that asks us to continue to murder other people in the future,” he complained. “All in the name of the sacrifices that were made. All in the name of preserving a realism that we think America represents in the world for the betterment of human civilization.” America’s grizzly and “sacrificial” meta-narrative has compelled Americans continuously to sacrifice their children “on the national altar” in a quest for unreachable validation, Hauewas surmised. “How do you get a people who are taught that they are free to follow their own interests to sacrifice themselves and their children in war?” he asked disapprovingly. “War is a counter-church,” Hauerwas argued. “War is the most determinative moral experience many people have. That is why [true] Christian realism requires the disavowal of war.”
Brian McLaren enthusiastically agreed with Hauerwas that America is imprisoned by its supposed meta-narrative of “domination.” Americans bewitched by their own global power are tragically convinced that “peace and security come from being in control,” he discerned. Beholden to their “empire,” Americans foolishly believe: “If we can be in charge, if we can have dominance, we can be safe,” McLaren regretted. He especially faulted conservative evangelicals for sustaining this national security obsession. If only evangelicals would all join the Religious Left and endorse unilateral disarmament, McLaren presumably wishes.
Joining McLaren and Hauerwas in opposition to the American “empire” was Canadian immigration activist Mary Jo Leddy. “This is a dangerous time,” she warned ominously. “Because as empires feel they are losing power they become ever more violent, ever more controlling, ever more desperate to hold on to that position of being in the center of the world.” Of course, this dire description describes the U.S. perfectly. But lest there be any doubt, Leddy specified that America under George W. Bush exploited 9-11 to launch an endless “War on Terror.”
“This war against terrorism is not only destroying the lives of innocent people,” Leddy bewailed. “It is impoverishing the people. It is legitimizing and minimizing the violence that runs through gender and racial politics. And it is destroying us spiritually.” Fighting communism resulted in less democracy, she claimed. And now “We are running roughshod over the innocent. In fighting terrorism, we have tortured people.” What does Leddy offer to replace the dreaded American “empire”? She recommended the “way of the termite,” which involves “determined acts of peace that strike at the foundation of empire.”
Becoming little “termites” to eat away and ultimately to destroy the “empire” does not sound like a very uplifting, constructive Christian vision. Typically Christians identify with redeeming the world, not corroding it. But Leddy’s language was suitably revealing. The WCC and its Religious Left affiliates once touted Third World Marxist revolution as the divine plan. Absent Marxism, they are left with only grim opposition to the U.S. and the global stability that its benign power offers. But the “way of the termite” sounds more nihilistic than Christian, doesn’t it?
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